Kaua‘i Kau Wela showcases Polynesian culture

WAILUA — When Ernie Menehune had to choose between “Rivera” and “Menehune,” there was no question in his mind.

He chose “Menehune” because it was making him far more money than “Rivera,” the Arizona-based entertainer said, Thursday during the opening ceremonies of Kaua‘i Kau Wela Summer Festival 2011 at the Kamokila Hawaiian Village in Wailua.

Larry Rivera, Kaua‘i entertainer and composer, said Ernie Menehune is his brother, having been born in Waimea and eventually moving to Arizona.

“I used to be a sheriff in Waimea, and one day, by accident, my gun went off and shot off a piece of the Waimea Bridge,” Ernie Menehune said. “I used to come back and see that until they went and patched it. Now, no one knows.”

Ernie Menehune will join Larry Rivera and Ilima Rivera at the Kaua‘i Kau Wela Summer Festival which opens Friday from 10 a.m. at the Kukui Grove Center and runs through Sunday.

The three-day festival offers a variety of Hawaiian and Polynesian dance and music peppered with Hawaiian and Polynesian crafters and vendors as well as solo hula and freestyle Tahitian dance competitions.

Tahitian Master Drummer Tapairu Manea and the Kaua‘i Kau Wela House Drummers will be providing some of the entertainment along with Larry Rivera and Ernie Menehune.

There will be various hula and Tahitian groups making appearances along with Miss Kaua‘i 2011 Kona-Kai Wilson, according to a release from Ilima Rivera.

Larry Rivera said the appearance of the Royal Court will be part of his Friday night show at the mall starting at 7 p.m.

Saturday morning, a parade will launch the day’s events at 10 a.m. from the Times Supermarket area.

Call Ilima at 822-5929 for more information.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.

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